Galapagos Cruise Report: Santa Cruz Island

From the National Geographic Islander in Galápagos July 27, 2010

We arrived at Santa Cruz Island to a somewhat somber day early in the morning. It was delightful, however, to experience the change of light as the sun partially broke from behind the clouds and softly lit our morning. We arrived at the Darwin Station ahead of any other group of visitors, and the experience was simply overwhelming. The tortoises, the dynasty of ancient reptiles that represent these islands of the eastern Pacific, couldn’t be faring better – this is the most successful repopulation project ever conducted on a natural environment. The restoration of giant tortoises driven by this project has delivered almost four thousand of these chelonians to different islands.

There were also many finches wandering around; we found them from time-to-time along the trail. “That’s a medium ground finch and they crush seeds to eat,” said Gunnar, a seven-year-old guest, who is the youngest on board and is really enjoying and animating all our visits.

In the afternoon, the greenery and thick vegetation smoothed our walk, and everyone to made contact with the tortoises in the wild. Photos, contemplation and happiness were shared and taken. The sky was covered by some clouds, but the afternoon was brightened by the smiles on the faces of all our guests.

To our delight, as we motored across the little village of Santa Rosa, we saw with tenderness a group of students from the elementary school, practicing for a parade. We couldn’t help but smile with satisfaction seeing the kids of this remote place having fun with this.

Later on, while walking around Los Gemelos, the mist reminded us of the drastic changes these oceanic islands are whim to, which determines the composition of the fragile biotas.

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